Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet, led the two-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent in time trials Saturday at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International by qualifying sixth for Sunday’s Finger Lakes 355k at The Glen NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Newman turned a lap of 69.827 seconds at 126.312 mph on the 2.45-mile, 11-turn road course.
“It was a good lap by our U.S. Army Chevy,” said Newman, who has a best finish of second in 2002 to go along with two other top-10 finishes in 10 previous Sprint Cup starts at Watkins Glen. “We picked up from where we were in practice, which was a good thing because the track definitely lost some grip. It was a good job by all the guys on this U.S. Army Racing Team. I’m just proud of the fight and determination they have each and every week. We have a good car. We’re ready for Sunday and our mission is to put the U.S. Army Chevy in victory lane.”
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet for SHR, will start just behind his teammate in seventh after turning a lap of 69.917 seconds at 126.150 mph.
“I was hoping we’d get a little bit more than that with our Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevy, but we pretty much backed up what we ran in practice. It’s a lot warmer now, so I’m pretty happy with that,” said Stewart, who has five wins and seven top-five finishes in his 13 previous Sprint Cup starts at Watkins Glen, including a win from the pole position in 2005. “I think we can put up a single lap time, but I’m not sure that we’re good in the long runs. But the good news is that we have all day today to let Steve (Addington, crew chief) and the engineers go to work and look at the notes from yesterday and this morning and see what they can come up with for tomorrow.”
Juan Pablo Montoya captured his ninth career Sprint Cup pole and second in a row by posting a track record lap of 69.438 seconds at 127.020 mph. This was Montoya’s first Sprint Cup pole on a road course, and he bested the previous track qualifying record of 69.767 seconds at 126.421 mph set by Kyle Busch last August.
Busch remained quick, as he will start on the outside of row one after timing in at 69.488 seconds at 126.928 mph. Jimmie Johnson was third (69.490 seconds at 126.925 mph), while Brad Keselowski (69.654 seconds at 126.626 mph) and Marcos Ambrose (69.710 seconds at 126.524 mph) rounded out the top-five.
With only 43 drivers attempting to qualify for the 43-car field, all will start the Finger Lakes 355k at The Glen.
As far as manufacturers went, qualifying was a model of parity. Chevrolet took the top spot via Montoya’s pole run. Toyota was next-best at the hands of Busch. Dodge was the third-fastest make thanks to Keselowski. Ambrose carried the flag for Ford.
The Finger Lakes 355k at The Glen gets underway at 1 p.m. EDT on Sunday with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with a pre-race show at noon.